Zebras rush for over 300 yards, force 3 turnovers in win over Peru
Ferverda, Deming run for 2 TDs each
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Alex Deming and Colton Ferverda each ran for two touchdowns, and the Rochester football team’s defense blanked visiting Peru in the first half and forced three turnovers in the second half en route to a 34-6 win at Barnhart Field Friday.
Payton Luhnow added 76 yards rushing and a touchdown for Rochester, who improved to 5-1 overall and 4-1 in the Three Rivers Conference.
This marked their first win over Peru since 2018 and kept them within a game of conference co-leaders Tippecanoe Valley and Maconaquah. Valley beat Whitko 60-6, and maconaquah beat North Miami 28-26 Friday. Maconaquah visits Valley next Friday.
Matt Roettger’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Braxten Robbins with 6:30 left averated the shutout and cut the lead to 28-6.
Peru (2-4, 2-3 TRC) then stopped Rochester on downs and took over on their own 28 with 2:28 left, but Eli Swango intercepted Roettger on the first play of the ensuing drive.
“The quarterback really underthrew it, so I saw it,” a smiling Swango said. “It was perfect, right in my chest. So I don’t know who he was throwing it to, probably me, of course.”
Ferverda scored on a 21-yard run two plays later to complete the scoring.
Rochester had over 340 yards rushing. Ferverda led with 99 ground yards, Deming had 97, Luhnow had 76, and freshman Brant Beck had 64.
“You’ve got to give Alex Ross a lot of credit,” Rochester coach Ron Shaffer said of his team’s running game, referring to a Peru linebacker who had a hand in occasionally scuttling it. “He played really, really tough on the defensive side. They gave us a little different look than we thought we were going to get, and we just got back to saying, ‘Hey, look, you have to block your rules. We’re not blocking our rules. We’re still stuck in this guy is mine and all that kind of stuff.’ Once we got back to blocking our rules, things went a lot smoother in the second half.”
Eli Swango, who typically plays only middle linebacker on defense, started both ways against Peru. He played left guard on offense as his twin brother Aaron called signals as the quarterback. Brady Beck shifted from left guard to left tackle to make room for Eli Swango.
Xavier Vance, who started the first five games at left tackle, missed the game due to a suspension after being ejected from last week’s game against Tippecanoe Valley.
“Right now, I’m on cloud nine,” Eli Swango said. “Third quarter, my heart would not stop pounding. I was breathing slowly, but my heart was just going. It was just a different experience. It was tiring, but I definitely enjoyed it. I would love to play both sides.”
Brant Beck contributed both offensively and defensively: He had a pass break-up and an interception in the fourth quarter. The interception came on a Roettger Hail Mary throw on the last play of the game.
Colin Weiand also forced a fumble that Owen Prater recovered with 1:48 left in the third quarter.
Rochester then embarked on a six-play, 85-yard touchdown drive.
Brant Beck turned the corner on a 40-yard run that gave the Zebras a first down at the Peru 25. He also had a 13-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter, which preceded Luhnow’s 9-yard scoring run on a counter that made it 28-0.
Playing at home for the first time in three weeks, Rochester held Peru to 63 yards of offense in the first half in building a 14-0 halftime lead.
Ferverda was the second man through after quarterback Aaron Swango faked a handoff to Deming and scored on a 28-yard run on a counter less than three minutes into the game.
“I guess we’re turning into more of a three-headed or four-headed beast there, rather than just relying on Deming,” Shaffer said. “But he’s still doing his job, and he doesn’t mind it, and we’re using sometimes more as a decoy, and the halfbacks get to benefit from that.”
Rochester’s second possession ended on a missed 37-yard field goal from Parker Wallace, but a 24-yard punt return from Luhnow led to a Zebra touchdown on their third possession.
Ferverda had a 15-yard run on fourth-and-2 from the Peru 30, and Deming scored on a 4-yard run four plays later, carrying a pile of players into the end zone with him.
After an illegal block penalty forced Peru to punt on their next drive, Rochester went three and out, and Peru took over after a 20-yard Alex Griggs punt at the Rochester 32. A roughing-the-passer penalty moved Peru into the red zone, but the Tigers gave the 15 yards right back on a snap over Roettger’s head that he fell on, and Rochester would eventually take over on downs on their own 27.
A 54-yard touchdown run from Deming, where the offensive line walled off the left side of the Peru defense to allow Deming to sprint into the secondary, made it 21-0 with 4:45 left in the third quarter.
Peru went on an eight-play drive and got as far as the Rochester 10 on their next drive which included a 30-yard reception from tight end Braxton Strong in which he was able to straddle the sideline and get a knee down inbounds. But four plays later, as rain began to fall, Weiand stripped Roettger and Prater recovered.
Rochester 34, Peru 6
Peru 0 0 0 6 – 6
Rochester 7 7 7 13 – 34
RHS – Colton Ferverda 28 run (Parker Wallace kick)
RHS – Alex Deming 4 run (Wallace kick)
RHS – Deming 54 run (Wallace kick)
RHS – Payton Luhnow 9 run (Wallace kick)
PERU – Braxten Robbins 6 pass from Matthew Roettger (pass failed)
RHS – Ferverda 21 run (run failed)